How full is your bucket? At Flint Springs Elementary School, this question is asked often, and the last day of 2012 seems like a fitting time to reflect on the answer. Today marks the close of my official time as the Indiana Teacher of the Year. I’ve been told repeatedly that my commitments will continue, but I know the expectations will be different. At our Teacher of the Year trainings, they warned us about this day saying, “December 31st marks the end of your year of recognition, but it also begins your lifetime of obligation.” Visiting Flint Springs Elementary School helped me find a way to articulate how I intend to approach this time of transition.
The wise educators at Flint Springs use the book, How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer to create a climate of kindness. In the book, the main character, Felix, learns that negative words and actions empty the “buckets” of those around him. He soon discovers, however, that kindness is contagious, and when he is a “bucket filler,” he ends up feeling happy, too.
During 2012, many wonderful people filled my bucket to overflowing. Yet, throughout the year, I felt guilty knowing so many other educators deserve the same praise. The teachers at Flint Springs are perfect examples of the hard working people who warrant “bucket filling” experiences. Throughout my day at Flint Springs, I heard teachers affirming the work of their students. I wasn’t surprised because teachers are experts at praising others. However, as I admired these incredibly dedicated teachers, I wondered, “How often does someone take the time to fill those teachers’ buckets?” I know how their principal feels. When she talks about her staff, you can hear the pride in her voice, but we can’t just rely on administrators to be bucket fillers.
Which leads to my “lifetime of obligation.” In 2012, my bucket was filled. In 2013, I intend to share those drops of kindness with others. I will continue to praise and encourage my students, but I also commit myself to being a “bucket filler” for teachers. Thank you, Flint Springs, for helping me understand that my journey as the Teacher of the Year is not really ending. It is just the beginning of a lifetime of new opportunities to remind teachers that they have the most important job in the world. Happy New Year, Flint Springs, today, I celebrate you!